By Bekah Angoff
Spring is a time of new growth and everything green, but it is also the time when oysters may not be at their boldest. The combination of the tangy cultured butter, the sweet and briny Salten Rocks, and the crunchy green asparagus burst forth with a complex bite of awesomeness.
12 Salten Rock Oysters, shucked with liquor (or an oyster with medium brine and sweet mineral notes)
½# unsalted cultured butter, cold and cubed
1 bunch large asparagus, shaved/ sliced (see technique below)
1 large shallot, sliced
2 oz. fresh morel mushrooms, sliced into rounds – possible substitute: maitake or cremini mushrooms
2 medium radishes, shaved
½ c. ramp tops, chiffonade (sliced thinly) – possible substitute: scallion greens
1 cup dry white wine
1 lemon, zest and juice
Cayenne or espelette pepper
· In a small saucepan, warm 6 tablespoons of the oyster liquor until it is just below a simmer. While whisking, add on one cube of cold butter at a time to emulsify, making sure the mixture does not break. (If it does break, simply simmer 1-2 tablespoons of liquor and re-emulsify the butter/ liquor mixture that has broken.) Set aside on the stove top to keep warm, not on direct heat. If the mixture simmers or boils, it will break.
· In a sauté pan, sweat the shallots and morels in olive oil plus a pinch of salt. Once the morels have softened and the shallots are translucent, add the wine and simmer. Once the liquid is reduced by half, add the sliced asparagus, another pinch of salt, lemon zest and pepper to taste. Remove from heat and add a generous spoonful of the butter emulsion.
· In a small bowl, dress the shaved asparagus in olive oil, lemon juice, salt and pepper and let it sit for at least 5 minutes, so the asparagus is pliable
· Move the saucepan of the butter emulsion to the lowest flame. Add in the oysters, stirring the pot once. Leave the oysters in the butter for no more than two minutes, or until the gills start to curl slightly. Any more time than this, and the oysters will become overcooked and grainy.
· In four separate shallow bowls, start building the salad with the mushroom and sliced asparagus mixture on the bottom, 3 of the poached Salten Rock Oysters with some of the butter, the shaved asparagus, and radishes. Garnish with cayenne or espelette to taste.
· For an added burst of decadence, we added some American Sturgeon caviar, which further enhanced the fresh burst of spring in our bowls - now bring on the flip-flop weather!